Monday, December 11, 2006

The ongoing Hyderabad book fair (today happens to be the last day) is a pretty sad story, with hardly any worthwhile stuff - what with every 5th stall either blaring nursery rhymes or playing some animated cartoons on a laptop. Nevertheless I picked up Precipice (Ben Bova), K-Pax (Gene Brewer), one of Dozois's sf anthologies, The Little Minister (J. M. Barrie), two horror anthologies and Contacting Aliens.
K-Pax is the book the movie K-Pax is based on - starring Kevin Spacey.
Also bought this interesting book on ancient India - the main point of the authors being to refute the Aryan invasion theory. I've just started reading it - and so far have detected a little tinge of jingoism in the assertions they've made.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Weekend binge, yet again

Shameless list of acquisitions yesterday

3 Donald Wollheim annuals, Triplicity (Thomas M. Disch), The Crystal City, The Boat of a Million Years, A King of Infinite Space, 5 other anthologies, 3 mixed (sf/fantasy) anthologies, Neveryona, Triad (A.E. van Vogt), Trap of Perseus (Ludek Pesek), 3 Asimovs, Glide Path (Clarke), a based-on-Asimov's-robot-novel and a fantasy by Ursula K. Le Guin. Apart from these, what I personally consider to be the high points - New Worlds for Old (David Ketterer), An Alien Light (Nancy Kress) (finally!) and The Rediscovery of Man (Cordwainer Smith).

What I am reading now? John Grisham. Am really hooked into his writing. Got two more.

After unpacking all this, looks like a new bookshelf is necessary.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

A small piece

Anushka Ravishankar is a writer of children's books - and pretty well known too, especially as a pioneer of good nonsense verse in English with an Indian touch, for children. I happened to read her science fiction short story 'Travelling Light' online at Quite good - was wondering if there's any collection which features only her science fiction stuff, apart from the recent 7 Science Fiction stories.

Friday, June 09, 2006

This and that

My favourite Roger Zelazny (sf, not fantasy) work remains Lord Of Light - but there was this gem of a story I read recently. 'My Lady of the Diodes' is one of the pieces in his collection 'Unicorn Variations'. It's a reworking of an old theme, of human AI relationships, but I find the title itself fascinating. Fantasy predominates in this book, with a couple of stories displaying a touch of Ray Bradbury, but most of them interesting experiments in story-structure-building, as Zelazny himself acknowledges. The other book am halfway through right now is Mindstar Rising - Peter F Hamilton. Not as hardcore technology driven as Neal Asher, and not so fast paced either.

X Men 3 is a ridiculous movie.
And they should never have made W/G:The Curse of the Were-Rabbit - should have stuck to that minimal-dialog-effect we all know and love in all Gromit episodes. Why do most movies made from TV Series/limited series suck?

Sunday, May 07, 2006


First suggested by Prashant, I managed to pick up and finish Ken Grimwood's Replay - which is another retake on the idea of intelligent unknown entities controlling our lives on earth to the extent that they actually rewind some lives and watch them again like a taped TV show. The focus in this book is more on the characters and events rather than the unknown force, which is left unnamed.

On a different note, from time to time I get this urge to read these books which are not pure SF, but are too tantalizingly close for me to not buy them. They usually lie on the lowest rack in book sales, are hardcover, the jacket dusty and sometimes tattered, and not thicker than 3 centimeters. They are usually written by sf, horror or occult authors. Surprisingly, I end up enjoying most of them.

Am rereading the Dirk Gently books, for the third time.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Barlowe's guide to ETs

Bought Barlowe's guide to extraterrestrials. The most significant omission I could think of at first glance was Niven's Moties.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

A nice, long, detailed review of Contact.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The “first Indian SFF genre novel” and others

I read two new books this week – Kleptomania by Manjula Padmanabhan and The Simoqin Prophecies by Samit Basu. The first is a collection of short stories – 3 of them science fiction. The second is what has been touted (by some, atleast) as the ‘first Indian sff genre novel in English’. I just finished the Prophecies – and it’s left me with a feeling of incompleteness.

A few weeks back I was at a weekend get together of old college mates in Bangalore. While talking about books in general one of said something like ‘hey have you read that Indian science fiction writer? Sumit…Sumit Basu I think his name is’. I hadn’t heard of any such writer, I said, and the matter dropped there. After getting back to Hyderabad, some googling turned up a lot of references – it’s Samit Basu, and The Simoqin Prophecies was published in 2004 (Penguin India). He is pretty well known by now, and my first taste of his writing was The Plasmoids.

After some hunting in Walden and Odyssey I got hold of the Prophecies. Normally I shy away from works of fantasy and works leaning towards fantasy – but I decided to give this a try. The blurb on the back cover was too cliched, though.

Maybe I’ve lost my bias or maybe the book is really good, but I finished it. And I like it and dislike it at the same time. I dislike it because the influences from Harry Potter are a bit too obvious and so is some of the other borrowed stuff.
I like it because I admire the author’s imaginative power of conjuring up the world where the action takes place, the easy, fast paced, no nonsense style of writing, and the humour. I like the (well) disguised parallel Earth, the city-state of Kol, which is based on Kolkata to a great extent (including Chinatown!!), the references which make you want to find out more about this world he’s thought up.

I mentioned at the beginning that it’s left me with a feeling of incompleteness – well, that’s why I’m hunting for the sequel right now :).

Samit Basu’s blog is at

The Frankfurt book sale is still going on in Hyderabad – last time I picked up Humans (Robert J Sawyer), some anthologies, some Pohls, Shadows’ End (Sherri S. Tepper) and a 1968 hardbound edition of 2001.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

While Hugo Gernsback's Ralph 124C41+ might not have much of a storyline, it amazes with its sheer power of prophecy. Only Gernsback could have possibly imagined all those technological breakthroughs in 1911.
This thin volume goes on for most of it's first half like a future technological encyclopedia, begins to concentrate on the more romantic interactions of the protagonist and the girl he's met as a result of a cross connected telephone, and ends with an interstellar chase. The title of the book has yet another meaning, but I won't give it away here.

By the way, the 2005 Hugo awards are at
Hm...I just realized I've not read a single one of them yet :(.

On the same note, I'm working on building my database of sf books again after a gap of two months. It's quite boring work, entering data, coupled with occassional curses as I realize I've bought the same book twice, or even thrice in one of my sprees, not remembering that I already have it.

Currently I'm reading Darwin's Radio by Greg Bear.